2013: The Year Fan Sourcing Became a Thing

January started with the public release of Star Wars: Uncut, the massive fan film collaboration which divided Star Wars IV: A New Hope into 15-second scenes. Fans re-shot the scenes and the best ones were edited together into a surprisingly watchable full-length film. A year in the making, the project won an Emmy for its groundbreaking contribution to interactive media.

Collaborative fan films aren’t completely new, but they’re easier to make now and much larger in scope. Fans can be anywhere in the world and be part of a project. The term “fan-sourced” may have been started by marketers, but it’s becoming a buzzword for crowd-rendered art.

At the end of January, Conan aired an entirely fan-sourced episode called Occupy Conan.  Everything from the monologue to the musical guest was recreated and pieced together with brief introductions from host Conan O’Brien.

The same weekend, fans of YouTube stars Rhett and Link released two versions of a screenplay the duo wrote when they were fourteen called Gutless Wonders. One is live action, the other an animated musical. Scenes for each were collected from fans worldwide.

Also on the same weekend, Pepsi aired a fan-generated countdown to the Super Bowl halftime show. It didn’t have the look or feel of a fan project, but it shows how mainstream Uncut’s visionary format has already become.

More fan-sourcing projects are in the works if you’d like to be involved:

  • The 94 Elements Project is a collection of films about how elements in the periodic table affect our lives.
  • Coldplay is collecting clips for a video to benefit Oxfam, a relief organization.  The film is called In My Place.
  • Kevin Smith announced that Clerks 3 will start as a book, with chapters released as an online serial. Fan feedback from the book will determine the content of the movie
  • The next Star Wars Uncut project is The Empire Strikes BackClaim your scene.

Though not all fan-sourced projects are fan films, the new genre offers possibilities for those looking for collaborators. Expand your call sheet to another country and you’ve increased your resources. Just make sure one of the people you find is a really good editor.

Donna Williams

New to fan films. Old to writing.

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